Mexican-Spiced Adlai (Job's Tears)

Updated: Mar 18

I’m pretty sure a lot of you are wondering: What is Adlai?

Well, adlai is actually locally cultivated grain, a type of barley known as Job’s Tears. It grows in elevated areas here in the Philippines and is said to contain more than double the protein and energy as rice. I only recently tried adlai and really love it’s texture. It’s somewhere in between rice and pasta, and is really chewy! I’ve been incorporating it in a lot of my meals but love it as a rice substitute. Oh and it’s also gluten-free!

For this recipe, I cooked it similar to how I would cook risotto. The adlai turned out really chewy and absorbed the flavors really well! My mom and friends really loved this one and I made it in big batches to have for upcoming meals.

I also stuffed them in some roasted bell peppers. Basically, I just halved some whole raw bell peppers and cooked them in the oven for 25-30 minutes at 350F until cooked through. Then I finished it off by placing the cooked adlai inside the peppers, and placing them in the oven to cook for an additional 10 minutes. I finished them off with some fresh cilantro and lime juice.

This is something you can easily prepare that's not only vegan and delicious but nutritious as well!

I purchased my White Adlai from Hineleban Farms but you can also find Adlai in local specialty stores here in Metro Manila, Philippines and online from Farm to Folk PH.

I have become more conscious of where my food is sourced and how they are grown. I was researching a lot about how food ends up in our groceries and local markets in the recent months and realized how our choices can impact not only the environment but also the people who grow the food we eat! A lot of growers still do not have access to the mainstream market to sell their produce and can end up in the hands of middlemen traders who may buy their goods at really low cost; So brands who provide the audience with locally and ethically sourced products straight from the growers are doing an awesome job.

Check out the full recipe for this Mexican-Spiced Adlai (Job's Tears) below. Enjoy! If you make this recipe, please tag me @thefoodietakesflight on Instagram!

Mexican Spiced Adlai (Job's Tears) Recipe

Serves 3-4 people

1 cup uncooked adlai*

1 400g can diced tomatoes

2 tbsp oil

1 large onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup diced red, orange, or yellow bell peppers

3 1/2 cup vegetable stock (or sub water)**

1 tsp cumin seed powder

1/2 tsp paprika powder

1/2 tsp cayenne or chili powder, optional

1 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste

Fresh Cilantro, roughly chopped for topping

Line juice

*If you do not have access to adlai, you can use barley or orzo but you will have to lessen the liquid and reduce cooking time to come out with chewy, al dente grains.

**If using water, you may need to add more salt to taste.


  1. Heat a deep pan or pot. Add in 2 tbsp oil. When hot, add in the onions and garlic. Sauté until cooked.

  2. Add in the bell peppers and sauté for 2-3 minutes until tender. Add the uncooked adlai and mix. Add in the tomatoes, 1 cup of stock, cumin, paprika, and cayenne if using.

  3. Mix and leave to boil over medium heat. You can cover the pan. Continue to stir frequently. Once the adlai has absorbed the liquid, add another cup of stock. Repeat this until the adlai is cooked through and liquid has been absorbed, around 35-40 minutes. Add in the salt or season to taste. Mix well.

  4. Turn off heat then finish off with fresh cilantro and lemon juice, if desired. Enjoy while hot!

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